The Auckland Council is scaling back intensification plans for the city weeks before October's local body elections.
A hard-fought battle by council planners to retain "no density limits" in suburbs was lost when Mayor Len Brown yesterday withdrew a compromise after it became clear that councillors and local board leaders would not stomach the issue.
The Auckland Plan committee went on to abolish several "integrated development precincts" that would have allowed Housing New Zealand to build intensive developments of three and four storeys in suburban areas.
Other backdowns in the new planning rulebook for the city were reduced height limits in Kohimarama and Browns Bay, less intensification around St Heliers village and rezoning part of Great North Rd in Grey Lynn for terraced housing and apartments.
Mr Brown's decision to withdraw pull his compromise on suburban density controls marked a turning point after four days of trying to settle the most controversial issue in the new rulebook, or Unitary Plan.
Council planners have argued strongly against plans to scrap "no density limits" in the mixed housing suburban zone, which covers 40 per cent of residential Auckland.
Yesterday, they took the fight to Mr Brown by suggesting his proposal of no density limits on sites greater than 2500sq m was too high and should be reduced to 2000sq m.
They even changed the language to describe density controls - abandoning the wording of "no density limits" in the draft Unitary Plan to the friendlier term "flexible density".
Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton called the density controls appalling and unworkable in South Auckland where the average family size was 6.5 people.
Councillor Sandra Coney said stuffing houses on small sites would lead to ghettos.
Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes said it was an affront to have an integrated development precinct for Waterview proposed at the last minute.
It went against a carefully considered local precinct plan, and would have increased heights for new developments to four storeys in a suburban area, favouring the interests of Housing New Zealand.
Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt said it was important to recognise the coastal character of towns such as Browns Bay and Orewa.
She was speaking to a motion from Albany councillor Wayne Walker to reduce height limits in the two towns.
At one point, Mr Brown urged councillors to stick with the proposed suburban zones and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
*Scrap "no density limits'' in suburbs.
*Reduce Kohimarama beachfront height from 14.6m to 10m and Browns Bay maximum height from 24.5m to 16.5m.
*Reduce zoning around St Heliers village.
*Rezone part of Great North Rd in Grey Lynn for terraced housing and apartments.
*Scrap higher density housing precincts in Owairaka, Waterview, Roscommon Rd, Red Hill, Bairds Rd, Mahia Rd.